The Basics of Dominoes


A domino is a set of game pieces that are used to play a variety of games. The most common type of dominoes are molded plastic or composite-material sets with a standardized arrangement of black and white dots (also known as pips). Some manufacturers produce specialty sets, such as wood or metal, that may have a more unique design or color scheme. Many domino enthusiasts collect and use their sets to create artistic displays. Others enjoy simply playing the game, toppling one domino after another in long lines to create intricate patterns and structures.

The word “domino” is derived from the Latin dominium, meaning “little tusker.” The earliest recorded usage of the term in English was around 1825. By the 20th century, domino was commonly used to describe a sequence of events that start small and grow quickly. The physics behind these chain reactions are what led to the common phrase, “the domino effect,” referring to a simple action that leads to much larger consequences.

Dominoes are usually played with a set of 28 tiles, although larger sets exist for use in layout games or for players who like to build long domino runs. Most modern sets feature a standard arrangement of black and white dots, although some have a different pips pattern or even a blank side (indicated by a “0”). The pips on the ends of a domino indicate its value. A domino with the same number on both ends is referred to as a double, while a domino with the same value on one end and a different number on the other is called an ace.

Each domino has two matching ends. The ends can be placed parallel or at right angles to each other. In some types of positional games, a domino must be touched by the other players before scoring points. To do this, each player must place a tile with matching pips touching the exposed end of the first domino in the line, and the resulting points are added up to determine the winner.

Most domino players draw a certain number of tiles at the beginning of the game, either by drawing lots or determining who has the heaviest hand. Each player then places his or her dominoes on the table in front of him, with the goal of forming the longest possible domino run before anyone else. The winner is determined by the first player to score the most points.

While there are a multitude of games that can be played with dominoes, the most popular form of gameplay is known as the block game. In the block game, each player places a domino on the table, taking care to place it so that its exposed ends match those of the adjacent tiles.

The resulting pattern of connecting dominoes is often referred to as a “domino line,” and constructing one is the main point of the block game. When a domino is tipped, it causes the next domino in the line to tip, and so on, until all the dominoes have fallen.